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College of Health Sciences

Downers Grove, IL Campus

Degree Description

Clinical Psychology Program

The Doctor of Psychology degree is designed to be a professional degree similar to the doctoral degrees provided in medicine, law, pharmacy, physical therapy, and dentistry. The Psy.D. is considered the degree of choice for persons interested in becoming a practitioner scholar when pursuing a career in clinical psychology. The program emphasis is on the development of essential diagnostic, therapeutic, and consultative skills for the practice of clinical psychology.

The program of study follows the objectives of the training model endorsed by the American Psychological Association (APA). Students are educated and trained in the following psychological domains related to the current body of knowledge: the biological aspects of behavior; cognitive and affective aspects of behavior; social aspects of behavior; history and systems of psychology; psychological measurement; research methodology; techniques of data analysis; individual differences; human development; dysfunctional behavior and psychopathology; professional standards and ethics; theories and methods of assessment and diagnosis; effective interventions; consultation; supervision; efficacy of interventions; issues of cultural and individual diversity; and attitudes essential for lifelong learning, scholarly inquiry, and professional problem-solving.

The program centers on the development of appropriate attitudes, knowledge, and skills reflected in the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP) identified training competencies of relationship, assessment, intervention, research/evaluation, consultation/education, management/supervision, diversity, and professionalism.

The Program's goal of the program is to educate and train students in the practitioner-scholar training model for the practice of clinical psychology. There are eight specific required competencies. The program has key points in the curriculum targeted to assess progress in attaining these competencies: 

  1. Relationship Competency: The relationship competency requires a demonstration of interpersonal skills. This includes the capacity to develop and maintain a constructive working alliance with clients. The ability to consult and collaborate with others, such as peers, colleagues, students, supervisors, and members of other disciplines, consumers of services and community organizations, is considered part of relationship skills. The knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to this competency are: open-mindedness, belief in the capacity for change in human attitudes and behavior, appreciation of individual and cultural diversity, personal integrity and honesty, and belief in the value of self-awareness.
  2. Assessment Competency: The assessment competency is grounded in the foundation of knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes in the areas of human development and psychopathology. The assessment competency requires an ability to acquire and synthesize multiple sources of data to develop appropriate diagnoses and treatment plans and to communicate that information in an effective manner. Students learn the importance of cultural factors in the assessment process. Competence in assessment is identified through the development of proficiency in the administration, scoring and interpretation of standard assessment instruments.
  3. Intervention Competency: The intervention competency requires students to demonstrate an ability to intervene with clients from an identified theoretical perspective. Intervention is the ability to develop realistic formulations for understanding psychological issues using relevant theory and research while effectively implementing and revising treatment strategies; to evaluate the effectiveness of chosen intervention approaches; to recognize the limitations of different perspectives; and to adjust traditional models of treatment and intervention planning to effectively meet the needs of diverse populations. Students demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes congruent with evidence-based practice rationales and can articulate them.
  4. Research and Evaluation Competency: The research and evaluation competency rests on the student's foundation of knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes in the areas of tests and measurements, statistics, and research design. This competency is the ability to organize, synthesize and interpret scholarly information; to integrate scholarly findings into clinical practice; to expand awareness of the limitations of clinical and scientific inquiry; to design and critique approaches of inquiry; to expand understanding of the foundations of scientific psychology; and to recognize the social, cultural, and political process in the production of scientific knowledge.
  5. Consultation and Education Competency: The consultation and education competency is the ability and skill needed to teach others through oral and written presentations, to provide feedback regarding an individual or system to multiple sources; to facilitate and evaluate growth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a learner; to effectively provide peer consultation and constructive feedback; and to develop a productive relationship with service providers.
  6. Management and Supervision Competency: The management and supervision competency relates to the ability to demonstrate an understanding of the business aspects of psychological practice; to have an awareness of the relevant laws and standards of practice; to effectively use supervision and professional review; to develop supervisory skills toward use in administration; to effectively manage cases; to have an awareness of contemporary issues related to the regulation and practice of psychology; and to integrate outcomes from scholarship while maintaining quality control.
  7. Diversity Competency: The diversity competency is the ability to articulate one's own cultural impact on values and world view; to understand the psychological impact of privilege, prejudice, cultural and sociopolitical structures; to identify individual variation across cultures and pathology; and to appreciate the impact of culture on the historical and philosophical foundations of psychology.
  8. Professionalism Competency: The professionalism competency is defined by the ability to apply ethical and professional standards to interactions with clients and with others including peers, supervisors, faculty, and other professionals; to become acclimated to the profession through advisement, modeling and education; to engage in quality control; to be effective in various professional roles; and to have a commitment to life-long learning. Professionalism also includes the ability to maintain self-care, the ability to demonstrate self-reflection, the maintenance of appropriate boundaries, and a willingness to recognize errors and respond appropriately. Students must demonstrate a professional manner and follow the professional and university codes of ethics and conduct.